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The soul of Ann Rutledge, Abraham Lincoln's romance online

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LINCOLN ROOM

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
LIBRARY




MEMORIAL

the Class of 1901

founded by

HARLAN HOYT HORNER

and
HENRIETTA CALHOUN HORNER



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S ROMANCE




"ABRAHAM, THIS PLACE SEEMS HOLY AND YOU ARE ITS PROPHET "

Page S76



THE SOUL OF
ANN RUTLEDGE

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S
ROMANCE



BY

BERNIE BABCOCK



WITH A FRONTISPIECE IN COLOR BY
GAYLE HOSKINS




PHILADELPHIA & LONDON
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

1919



COPYBIGHT, ipip, BT J. B. L1PP1MCOTT COMPAMT



PBINTED BT J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANT

AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS

PHILADELPHIA, V. 8. A.



TW



AUTHOR'S NOTE

Isr the tremendous output of Lincolniana that
has been given to literature, it seems strange that
no adequate story has been given of one of the
greatest loves in history.

Many writers have referred to it and to its
moulding power on the lover's after life. Some
have thrown sidelights on the character of the
woman. Some have mentioned her rare gift of
song and her unusual endowment of mind, and
one writer has given a careful description of her
personal appearance. But so far as careful and
exhaustive research shows, all this matter has
never been woven into one story.

It is also strange that there has been so much
controversy regarding the religious views of
Abraham Lincoln, and by those whose faith is
based on the evidence required by the Great
Teacher when He said, " Ye shall know them by
their fruits." Nor should it ever have been
taken as an evidence of lack of faith because he
did not accept the creedal beliefs of his day, for
had not the Christ Himself strenuously denied



AUTHOR'S NOTE

much that was insisted on in His day, Christian-
ity could never have been possible.

In this story both the love and the faith of one
of earth's noblest souls is simply and intimately
told.

In an age when the cynical opinion is too
often heard, that between men and women there
can be no different or more lasting love than the
mating instinct of animals, and at a time when
the death of millions of the world's best men
has brought into fresh insistence the age-long
question, "If a man die shall he live again?" a
fresh and different setting forth of Abraham
Lincoln's master passion for a woman, and his
calm and unshakable faith in immortality, may
be of more than usual interest and value.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGE

I. ONE APRIL DAY 11

II. IN CLARY'S GROVE 23

III. THE RAILSPLITTER 33

IV. THE PILGRIM 40

V. SWAPPING HOSSES 50

VI. "FlXIN FER THE ANGELS" 60

VII. "Sic 'EM, KITTY" 66

VIII. THE TEST 73

IX. "THOU SHALT NOT COVET" 83

X. THE MYSTERIOUS PIG 92

XI. PETER CARTWRIGHT ARRIVES 101

XII. THE RIGHTEOUS SHOUT 113

XIII. A BUSY SINNER 124

XIV. THE SPELLING MATCH 134

XV. "WHO'S AFRAID?" 146

XVI. POLITICS AND STEAMBOATS 157

XVII. CAPTAIN LINCOLN 163

XVIII. "BOOKS BEAT GUNS, SONNY" 171

XIX. ABE MAKES A SPEECH 175

XX. STORY OF A BOY 180

XXI. ONLY WASTING TIME 189

XXII. TOWN TOPICS 202

XXIII. ALIAS MCNEIL 211

XXIV. IN THE CELLAR 221

9



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

XXV. FATHER AND DAUGHTER 227

XXVI. GLOOM AND THE LIGHT 232

XXVII. COVERING THE COALS 245

XXVIII. "HE'S RUINT HISSELP FOREVER" 256

XXIX. GOD'S LITTLE GIRL 263

XXX. THE END OF JUNE 271

XXXI. STRONGER THAN DEATH 277

XXXII. THE UNFINISHED SONG 286

XXXIII. "WHERE is ABE LINCOLN? "* 294

XXXIV. FOR THE THINGS THAT ARE TO BE 305

XXXV. THE POEM 310

XXXVI. ON THE WAT . 321



THE SOUL OF
ANN RUTLEDGE

CHAPTER I

ONE APBIL, DAY

' ANN ! Ann ! Ann Eutledge ! Hallo ! Hallo ! ' '

The cheerful voice belonged to a rosy-cheeked
girl who shouted in front of Rutledge Inn, one
of the straggling group of log houses that made
the village of New Salem, Illinois, in 1831.

Pausing in front of the Inn, the animated girl
repeated her call lustily as she watched for the
closed door to open.

11 Hallo yourself, Nance Cameron," a clear,
musical voice replied from somewhere in the
rear of the weather-stained building, and the
next moment Ann Rutledge came around the
corner.

' 'Look ! Springtime has come ! Isn't it splen-
did to be alive in the springtime? I found them
in the thicket ! ' ' and pausing she held out an arm-
ful of plum branches white with their first bloom.

In the moment she stood, an artist might

have caught an inspiration. On one side of the

11



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

background was a vista of open garden, perhaps,
and meadow, with a glimpse of forest farther
back, and over it all the white-flecked, spring-
blue sky.

On the other side was the solid framework
that told of days when there had been no meadow
or garden, and of the pioneer labor that had
wrought the change.

In the foreground of this brown and green
and blue setting stood a slender girl in a pink-
sprigged calico dress. Her violet eyes were
shaded with dark lashes. Her shapely head was
crowned with a wealth of golden hair in which
a glint of red seemed hiding. A white kerchief
was pinned low about her neck, and across her
breast were tied the white strings of a ruffled
bonnet which dropped on her shoulders behind.
She pressed her face for a moment in the armful
of blossoms, sniffing deep, and with the joy of
youth exclaimed again, " Isn't it splendid to be
alive in the springtime ! ' '

But Nance Cameron had no eye for the artis-
tic at this moment.

"Have you been to the river?"

* ' River ? What 's going on at the river ? ' '

" Didn't Davy tell you, nor your father?"
12



"No, I've just come home across lots from
Green's. What's happening at the river?"

" Everything, and everybody's down seeing
it happen. Let 's go. ' '

" If you'll wait till I fix my flowers."

" Don't wait drop them or bring them.
Everybody but us is there. ' '

Nance Cameron had turned to the roadway.
Ann was about to join her when she turned back.

"Bad luck! Bad luck!" shouted Nance.
"Don't go back!"

"I forgot to shut the back door."

Nance stopped, made a cross in the dirt and
spat on it.

" You don't pay attention to your signs
worth a cent, ' ' she said, as Ann rejoined her.

"I don't much believe in signs," Ann
answered.

"That's where you're silly. A black cat ran
across Mrs. Armstrong's path no later than
yesterday after she had her soap in the kettle.
And wasn't that soap a fizzle? And don't Han-
nah Armstrong know how to make soap? It
was the cat did it, and if I hadn't changed your
luck just now you 'd been in for something awful

might never live to marry John McNeil."

13



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

Ann laughed, and they started on their way
down the road, that stretched the length of New
Salem 's one street toward Sangamon River.

"What's going on at the river?" Ann asked
again.

' ' Somebody 's ark is stuck on the dam. It got
stuck just before dark last night. The crew
couldn't get it off and had to wait until morning.
They came up to the store to get some drinks.
The town men gathered in and you never on this
earth heard such roars of laughter as those men
let out. Ma couldn't guess what it could be
about. When Pa came in he told her there was
the funniest tall human being he ever set eyes
on with the ark crew. Said his legs reached as
high up as a common man's breech belt, his body
reached up as high as another man's arms, and
his head was up on top of all that. And Pa said
he told the funniest stories, and the men nearly
died. Pa was laughing yet when he told Ma
about it."

1 ' Is the boat stuck yet ? ' '

" She's stuck yet. Dr. Allan and Mentor
Graham just went down and I heard them talk-
ing. She's on her way to New Orleans with a
load of barreled pork and stuff. Davy's been

14



ONE APRIL DAY

up to the store twice. He says the crew have
worked like beavers to get the cargo off the big
boat, but that the water is running in bad and
the barrels are slipping to the end which sticks
out over the dam and she's sure to go over.
She's going to make a great splash, and I love
splashes. Let 's hurry ! ' '

' ' I hope nobody gets drowned, ' ' Ann said.

"Like as not they will, and we'll get to see
them fished out. Let 's trot a little. ' '

With the inspiring hope of hearing a splash
and perhaps seeing the first shocking throes of
a drowning, the two girls hastened on down the
slope that reached to Eutledge Mill, where the
dam was.

It was true, as Nance had said, New Salem
was out to witness the unusual sight of a fiat
boat on the dam where it had been stuck nearly
twenty-four hours. It was a river craft of the
usual flat-boat size, about forty feet long by
fifteen wide, and sides six feet high. One end
was covered with a roof of boards, and there
were other boards fitted with ragged sails to
hasten the freight-bearer on its long jonrney of
1800 miles to New Orleans.

The crowd on the river bank and the plat-
is



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

form of the mill was lavish with suggestions and
advice which were shouted to the crew working
desperately to save the cargo.

Ann Kutledge and Nance Cameron paused
a moment to take in the view of the unfortunate
boat, whose rear stuck clear of the water and
into whose fore the barrels were slowly settling.
It seemed nothing could prevent the impending
catastrophe.

"Let's get out on the platform. I would like
to see that funny, tall fellow your father told
about, ' > Ann said.

Passing through the mill, deserted for the
time by the dusty miller, the girls joined the
crowd on the platform and Ann found herself
standing by a peculiar appearing personage, a
small man of uncertain age, who wore foxed
breeches and coon-skin cap, and who had but one
good eye which just now was fastened on the
fore of the imperiled boat.

" 'Ole Bar's* come back," Arm whispered,
punching Nance and turning her eye toward the
old man who stood beside her.

'Ole Bar' was a person of interest, ancj very
peculiar. He was chewing some sort of a cud
rapidly. When an unusually interesting sug-

16



ONE APRIL DAY

gestion was shouted out over the roar of the dam
water, he rolled his cud into a hollow made by
the loss of two back teeth and kept quiet until
the moment of suspense was past, when he made
up time working his jaws. Nance only glanced
at him now. * ' I wonder where that tall baboon
is ? " she said, craning her neck toward the raft.

"See that thar patch of something that ain't
no color the Lord God ever made nor no shape
He ever seen? Well, that's his hat. He's under
it, squattin' in the boat, doin' something to get
'er goinV

" What's he doing?" Ann ventured.

1 1 Eh that's it," Ole Bar said with a dry
smile. "The rest of the crews runnin' about
like chickens with their heads chopped off, and
these here galoots along shore is yelping like a
pack of coyotes after a buffalo bull. But he's
keepin ' cool. This kind generally gits something
done. Howsomever, that ark's goin' over. I've
been numerous in turkey-trottin' and bee-run-
nin' and bar-killin', but I hain't never before
seen an ark in no such fix as this un is. ' '

' * Look Nance, ' ' Ann whispered. ' ' He 's ris-
ing up look!"

A moment his body partially showed. Then
2 17



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

lie bent low again. The next moment there was
a sudden spurt of water from the bottom of the
boat. The water pumping its way out caught the
attention of the crowd.

' ' He *s emptying her out ! ' ' they cried. * ' How
'did he do it?"

The tall figure under the colorless, shapeless
hat had now lifted himself, and, as if to
straighten his muscles after a long cramped posi-
tion, he stretched to a height that seemed to be
that of, a giant, threw out his chest, reached his
long arms to a prodigious expanse and took a
deep breath.

As he did so Ann felt someone touch her. It
was "Ole Bar." "Some huggin' he could do
with them arms in matin' season hey, Molly,"
he said; and when Ann turned to look at Ole
Bar he winked his good eye at her and waited
for an answer.

A shout from the crowd made any answer to
this remark unnecessary. For a moment the
towering youth stood before them like a comical
picture, slender, angular, barefooted, his faded
yellow breeches scarce more than clearing his
knees and showing a pair of spindle legs. His

uncolored shirt was flung wide open and over one

18



ONE APRIL DAY

shoulder was stretched a suspender which held
one breeches-leg higher than the other. As the
water pumped itself out and the boat began to
right, they knew that he had bored a hole.

The cheers continued, he lifted his shapeless
hat and, with the grace of a gentleman, waved
it a couple of times at the cheering crowd. Then
he pushed back a mop of Hack hair, clapped his
head-covering down on it and turned to help
reload the cargo that had been moved into small
boats.

To bore a hole in the bottom of a water-filled
boat was no great physical task. But the crowd
cheered uproariously as the boat righted herself.
Men shouted, women waved their bonnets and
kerchiefs, and Ann Eutledge shook her branches
of wild plums.

Again the ungainly young giant waved his
hat.

"He's waving at you, Ann," John McNeil,
who had joined the girls, said, coming up behind
her. ' ' Wave at him. ' ' And she did and laughed
as he swung his limp and tattered hat.

" Where do you suppose that kind grow?"
Nance asked. "He looks like a giant scarecrow,
but he's had lessons in manners, the identical
same kind Mentor Graham tells about. ' '

19



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

It took but a short time to reload the boat.
As she started on her way the cheers died, and
most of the crowd went up the hill to the village.

" Let's stay to see the last of it," Ann said
to Nance.

" You want him to wave at you some more,"
John McNeil said to Ann. ''Well, go ahead
you'll never see him again."

The boat sailed on. To those on board who
looked back a few moments later, the mill and
dam were resolving themselves into an indistinct
patch of gray and brown, against which a bit of
pink, waving something white, stood out. As a
farewell answer to the waving of the white, the
mellow music of the boat horn came floating back.

The sun went down behind the forests bor-
dering the smoothly flowing Sangamon; the
crude craft passed from view.

And yet once again the mellow tones of the
primitive horn came floating back over the forest
and across the river.

' ' What a good sound ! ' ' Aan exclaimed. ' * It 's
soft as the first shadows, and it's strong. ' '

"Yes, strong as that man's arms in mating
season hey, Molly ? ' ' And Nance punched Ann
in the side.

20



ONE APRIL DAY

The girls laughed merrily. "Isn't 'Oie Bar*
funny!" Ann said. "He's just back from an
awful exciting trip to Arkansas, wherever that
is. He '11 have lots to tell. ' '

"Davy and father will get his stories. But
say, Nance, do sounds make you think of
smells?"

"I never thought of such a thing."

"Don't cow-bells make you think of hay and
dandelions and grass and the smell of the cow-
lot in the evening?"

' ' They do go together. ' '

"And don't water running over roots make
you think of willow blooms, and water dripping
over stones sound like ferns when the stems are
crushed? And the sound of crows don't they
bring the smell of the field furrows? And don't
bees and honey-locust, and robins and apple
blossoms, go together? I could name a hundred
sounds that have smells for partners.

"Yes, but you're funny, Ann, to think of such
things. ' '

' ' Now I have a new pair. The sound of that
horn, away off behind the trees, will always make
me think of the first plum blossoms. The smell

and the sound came together as I shook the

21



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

branches, and the smell right here seemed to
me exactly the same thing told in another way as
the sound away over the water. Nance don 't
you love plum blossoms'?"

i ' I don 't know as they 'r e any "better than dog-
wood or haw blooms and I'm not crazy about any
of them."

" You 're just like John McNeil. John don't
like plum blossoms. I nearly cried when he told
me he was going to chop out all the plums and
wild vines on his place. But those on our place
will not be cut. Father has promised me the
thicket and the dell on the creek for my flower
garden forever."

' ' I 'd rather have a new belt-buckle. But let 's
go."

"I'm ready I'll race you to the top of the
hill before the sun drops behind the trees. One
two three off, ' ' and with her spring flowers in
her arms and her bonnet flying, Ann with Nance
ran shouting up the hillside in the slanting rays
of the April sun.



CHAPTER II

IN CLABY'S GROVE

THE evening of the day the imprisoned flat
boat made its way successfully out of New
Salem, the Clary Grove gang had a meeting.
Windy Batts was expected lo return from
Springfield, where he had gone to prove his
fitness for fellowship with the Clary Grove Boys
by thrashing a Springfield strong man who had
cast aspersions on his character as a pugilist.

Clary Grove was a settlement of a few log
houses near New Salem, so called for Bill Clary,
the owner of the grove where the select met to
swap stories, discuss news and partake of real
liquor.

Every new-comer to the vicinity was sized up.
If Clary Grove was friendly, so much the better
for the new-comer. He might not become a
member of the gang. Indeed few were allowed
to sit in close fellowship about the fire with the
gang, but he would at least be let alone.

Windy Batts had expressed a desire to be of
the gang. He was, however, looked upon with a
degree of suspicion, as he had done some exhort-

23



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

ing for the Hard Shells, and Clary Grove looked
askance at religion in any form, and while he
had boasted of ' ' dingblasting the daylights out
of them shoutin' Methodists, " Clary Grove was
not satisfied that he was proper stuff to fellow-
ship with them and their whiskey.

They awaited his return from Springfield,
where he was to prove his pugilistic ability, with
some interest.

The cool, spring air with the tang of frost not
yet safely out of it, made a fire comfortable, and
a bright blaze burned between the two smooth
logs on which the gang roosted.

Buck Thompson, the luckiest horse-trader in
that section, and Ole Bar were the first to arrive.
Ole Bar sat beside the fire, his jaws working
industriously and his one good eye shining like
a spark. No one of the gang had ever been able
to learn what misfortune had befallen the lost
eye of Ole Bar.

That he had been "cleaned of it right and
proper" all agreed. Opinion was divided, how-
ever, as to the cause or method, one portion be-
lieving a bear had clawed it out, because of his
familiarity with bears, and others holding to the

opinion that some specimen of womankind was

24



IN CLARY'S GROVE

responsible for the loss, because of his oft-
expressed unfriendly feeling toward women.

Jo Kelsy, a fat and favorite brother of the
clan, who was always ready with a new story
about a ghost or a witch from his one treasure,
an inherited copy of Shakespeare, was the third
to arrive.

His usual costume was varied slightly. He
came hobbling in, one foot encased in a moccasin.
Ole Bar glanced at his mismated feet.

11 What's bit ye, Jo?" he asked.

"My wife she dropped a five-gallon crock
on my foot," he answered.

"Cfood thing it wasn't your head, for be it
known by man and bars, them as mixes up with
wimmen has heads softer than their feet."

Jo laughed good naturedly. Then the three
talked of the raft and the ungainly youth who
had resorted to the homely but efficient expe-
dient of boring a hole.

"I've seen some legs in my day," Jo Kelsy
observed, ' ' but none long as his 'n. ' '

" Ain't no longer than yours is, Dumplin',"
said Old Bar. "Yours reaches to the ground
and his'n don't go no further. According to

my way of figgerin' his legs wasn't so numerous

25



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

when it comes to length as his head. That
galoot's got a long head."

A couple more of the gang dropped in, and
the talk continued about the raft and the head
raftsman. " Ever see anything like it? Wouldn't
think a backwoodsman could tell such stories
as he did last night, would ye?"

"Nor know enough to get an ark floating
when she was stuck so tight that G-od hisself
couldn 't stick her no tighter. ' '

"McNeil was figgerin' on her cargo to see
what it was worth."

"Trust McNeil for figgeriu' the worth of a
cargo or anything else."

" Ann Eutledge eh ? "

They laughed. Then one said, "I heard him
tellin' Hill him and Ann was goin' to marry and
have a big infare. But her Pappy won't let her
till next year. She has to git morel schoolin'."

"He better git while gittin's good. John
Eutledge is fixed, and he sets more store by Ann
than the whole other eight of 'em. ' '

' ' McNeil knows all that. But here comes Kit
Parsons. Wonder what's kept him late! Kit,
you 're late."

"Yeh," and he sat down by the fire.

26



IN CLARY'S GROVE

" What's extry? Been stealin' anything or
gettin ' religion 1 ' '

"Same thing as gettin > religion," he said.
"Been fulnllin' the Scripture injunction. "

"Which oneT

"Been replenishin ' and muitiplyin '. ' '

"Mollie got another litter?" Ole Bar asked
with a show of interest.

"Just one this year. But I calculate that a
man what grubs for three which arrives in two
years is somewhat religious."

"Bars is that religious," the one-eyed man
observed, ' ' only when they pursue the course of
Nature they don't blame it on religion."

After a laugh Ole Bar said solemnly to Kit,
"If you young fellers knew what was good fer
you you'd let wimmin alone."

" Where 'd you learn so much about wim-
min?" Jo asked.

"From bars. Bars rub noses at matin' time
and tears the ears offen each other when the
cubs has to be fed. Let wimmin alone and save
the wear on your noses and ears. ' '

"How's a body going to leave any ancestry
if he don't never git no place near a woman?"

Buck Thompson asked.

27



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

"Ancestry!" repeated Ole Bar. "Well,
what under heaven is these little, wet-nosed an-
cestry good f er anyhow ! Never had no ancestry
myself and I'm gettin' along all right got
along all right while I was in Arkansas, and
anybody that can do that don't need to worry
abont leavin' no ancestry."

"Tell us about Arkansas," was the next
demand.

Ole Bar shifted his cud into its receptacle
and said, "Wall, as you all know, in bar hunts
I've been numerous, but I hain't never seen no
such bars as grow in Arkansas. The bars in
Arkansas is the most promiscuous I've ever seen
and don't give a damn for nobody. But, Squire,
lets licker up. I'm gettin' so dry I'm taMn' the
rattles, ' ' and he reached for the bottle which was
passed around.

"Bars in Arkansas grows so fat they can't
wobble. You fellers here that think you're
gettin' the real thing when you bag the chipper-
growlers and shite pokers of these parts don't
know no thin' about what's growing in Arkansas.
Them bars rear up into the heavens high as that
feller that plugged the ark."

28



IN CLARY'S GROVE

"That smells rather taU," Buck Thompson
observed, but Ole Bar paid no attention.

"The woods in Arkansas is ankle deep with
acorns and berries and other bar food. Every-
body there eats bar, bar-ham and bar-sassage.
The beds is covered with bar-skins. They don't
use small skins like wild cat fer nothin' 'cept
piller covers. "

"Do they have boss tradin' in them parts'?"
Buck Thompson inquired.

"Hoss trading Well, I should say 'Yeh.'
You galoots think you swap bosses, but in
Arkansas "

"Hallo, fellers," shouted someone in the
outer circle of light.

"It's Windy Batts," several declared at
onoe, and immediately the man whose qualifi-
cations to become a member of the charmed
group had been put to the test, entered the circle
of light.

He was scrutinized and with not an alto-
gether approving eye. His arm was done up in
a sling. The forefinger of his right hand was
wrapped in a red, calico handkerchief. Some-
thing like a knob stuck out back of one ear which
was covered with a square of muslin, giving it

29



THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE

the appearance of a pat of butter. One eye was
black and both legs seemed to be stiff. Greet-
ings were brief. The main question was. "Who
whipped?"

"Yeh who hollered?" was asked.

Windy drew near the fire. "It was a great
fight," he began. "The greatest fight that was
ever fought in Springfield. We rolled over and
over, him sometimes on top and me sometimes
under. It was a fearful fight. Court turned out
to see it and an Indian Chief was there. He said
he never seen nothing like it. ' '

"Who whipped?" was again asked.


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